Crazy Quilting

comments (2) June 30th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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The bag I made in a class taught by Barbara Randle, a designer and teacher from Birmingham, AL, is always a showstopper—fun to make and fun to wear!

The bag I made in a class taught by Barbara Randle, a designer and teacher from Birmingham, AL, is always a showstopper—fun to make and fun to wear!

Photo: Mary Ray

Crazy quilting is a technique that involves sewing irregularly shaped pieces of fabric to a foundation block to create a patchwork design. It’s not really quilting at all, in the technical sense, because there’s usually no batting involved. And a true crazy quilt is heavily embellished with embroidery stitches. This process dates back to the Victorian era when it was the rage, although many people thought it was an extravagant pursuit because crazy quilted pieces were merely decorative and not at all useful—mostly because of the “fancy” fabrics used to create them, like silks and velvets. And since they lacked a warm layer of batting, they weren’t very functional as bed covers. You can read more about the history of this technique at Quilter's Muse and Women Folk.

But there’s lots of crazy quilting going on today, and two of my favorite friends who have made the technique their own are Alice Kolb and Barbara Randle. Both Alice and Barbara have written books and articles on the subject. You can check out one of Alice’s articles that was featured in Threads magazine and is also online. And you can find Barbara’s books and kits on her website. She’s designed purse patterns for Vogue Patterns as well. I took a class from Barbara at her lovely studio in Birmingham, AL, and made a great bag from one of her designs. I was able to make it my own with personal fabric and stitch choices—it was fun to make and fun to wear!

A lot of crazy patchwork is done by machine today, as well as the embroidery. This is a great way to try out all those decorative stitches that are on your sewing machine (the ones you never thought you’d use), but if you’re partial to hand-embroidery stitches, you must get acquainted with the work of Judith Baker Montano, who literally wrote the book on the subject. Actually, she’s written several, but my favorite is a great little handbook called Elegant Stitches that gives you the basics plus lots of design ideas and inspiration.

posted in: embroidery

Comments (2)

Jennifer_Nelson writes: What a beautiful bag! This is definitely inspiring me to learn how to sew.
Posted: 1:47 pm on June 30th
sundayz_crayonz writes: this is absolutely beautiful...!! such a labor of luv, showing busy hands, happy heart....!!!
Posted: 6:56 am on June 30th
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